Met Police: 'Insufficient grounds' to probe Tory 'cash for honours' allegations

12 November 2021, 18:37 | Updated: 12 November 2021, 20:17

The Met Police has said it won't be probing Boris Johnson's Conservative Party over 'cash for honour' allegations.
The Met Police has said it won't be probing Boris Johnson's Conservative Party over 'cash for honour' allegations. Picture: Alamy

By James Morris

The Metropolitan Police has ruled out launching an investigation into "cash for honours" claims relating to Tory donors being appointed peers after donating millions to the party.

It comes after the force had said earlier this week it was "considering" the calls, led by SNP MPs Pete Wishart and Angus MacNeil, for it to probe the claims.

This followed a press report that nine of the Tories' former treasurers have been elevated to the House of Lords since the party returned to power in 2010, having each donated more than £3m to the Conservatives.

But the Met said in a statement tonight there are insufficient grounds to pursue a case.

"Specialist detectives have considered the contents of correspondence received by the [force] relating to recent media reports concerning the awarding of peerages.

"Taking into account both the information provided in the correspondence and other available information alongside the relevant legislation, officers have concluded that there are not sufficient grounds to initiate an investigation.

"Should further information regarding these matters be provided to the [force] it will of course be considered."

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Mr Wishart, the SNP's shadow House of Commons leader, said he was "disappointed but it was not unexpected".

In a statement, he said: "If it is not illegal to hand out peerages in return for millions of pounds in donations then it should be illegal – and it is absolute proof that Westminster is institutionally corrupt."

He said the "independence of the police is paramount and we respect their decision, which is based on the evidence that is immediately available and the law as it stands", but added the row "proves that the Westminster system is broken beyond repair".

The saga surrounding parliamentary standards exploded last week when the government ordered Tory MPs to vote against the suspension of fellow Tory Owen Paterson over a breach of lobbying rules. Following a massive backlash, the government reversed this and Mr Paterson resigned.

A number of further sleaze rows have since erupted, including the "cash for honours" accusations and over MPs' second jobs, with one, Sir Geoffrey Cox, standing to make more than £1m – on top of his annual MP's salary of £81,000 – representing the British Virgin Islands in a corruption inquiry.

At the COP26 climate change summit on Wednesday, Boris Johnson had the indignity of having to insist, in front of world leaders, that the UK is not a corrupt country.

Speaking earlier today, the prime minister added: "I do not in any way underestimate the vital importance of the transparency of MPs working number one for their constituents and not engaging in paid advocacy."